Alirajpur Collector withdraws Sec 151 cases against 40 adivasi oustees – Jobat Satyagrahis stand vindicated
Intense dialogue with Collector, SP, Addl. SP for 4 hours: Offer of Land and house plots, fishing rights, fresh surveys from 20thJanuary
Jail Bharo Andolan in February, if promises are not kept
10th January, 2014: Surrounded and questioned by hundreds of adivasis for a second time yesterday, at the gates of the Collectorate, Alirajpur, the District Collector, Mr. N.P. Deheriya announced that he would immediately withdraw the charges of Sec 151, 107 and 116 (3) of Cr.P.C filed against 40 adivasis (including many elderly and 6 women) on the alleged and completely unsustainable ground of ‘breach of peace’ at the site of the Zameen Hak Satyagraha, Jobat.
Joined by Mr. Akhilesh Jha, SP and Mr. Saitaram Sastiya, Addl. S.P, the officials finally conceded that there was no disturbance to the peace by the oustees at Jobat. As the end of 4 hours long debate and dialogue with the Collector, the oustees and Medha Patkar convinced him that the occupation of government land at Jobat Farm was not in any way to disturb the peace of the locality, but was a measure undertaken, as a last resort, to assert the right to land and rehabilitation, which has been seriously affected, since more than a decade, when they have been facing the severe impacts of submergence. The following commitments were made by the Collector at the end of the dialogue:
· Cases of preventive detention under Sec. 151 would be immediately withdrawn.
· The State would facilitate the process of seeking bail in the FIR of 2011 and the charge sheet in the same has also been filed.
· The R&R Officer to begin showing land to the oustees from the 20th January and will ensure before this date that the land to be shown is cultivable and free of encroachment.
· House plots will be offered in lieu of Rs. 20,000 given many years ago, without consent.
· Surveys to be conducted in all the 13 villages once again to assess the actual and left our affected persons and properties.
· Immediate registration of the proposed co-operatives of the displaced fish workers from Machliya, Umda, Bhiti and Chhota Khattali villages.
· Assistance for irrigation facilities in the original villages by grant of 100% subsidized motor pumps.
The oustees also informed the authorities that the charges in the FIR of November, 2011 such as destruction of public property are completely false and fabricated and we shall fight this out in the court and also claim compensation for the losses caused due to crop destruction at the satyagraha.
The oustees asserted that this was the beginning of their struggle and expect the officials to keep up their promises, otherwise a massive Jail Bharo Andolan would start from February, 2014, with hundreds of women, children and cattle as well. Later in the evening, many of the oustees, along with Medha Patkar went to the District Jail and met the satyagrahis and also conveyed to them the developments of the day. The 40 adivasi oustees shall be bailed out by Monday. A brief chronology of the events in enclosed.
Idibai Surbhan Bhilala Kamla Yadav Meera (09179148973)
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
pertaining to the unlawful arrest of the Jobat Satyagrahis
24th November, 2011: Hundreds of Sardar Sarovar and Jobat dam-affected adivasis, farmers who have not been rehabilitated as per law and judicial orders, begin their indefinite Zameen Hak Satyagraha at the Govt. Agricultural Farm, Dehedla, Jobat.
30th November, 2011: Jobat Police register an FIR against ‘100 to 150 unknown persons’ under Sections 447, 147, 353, 332 of the IPC and also under Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
19th June, 2012: Dr. Afroz Ahmed, Director, Rehabilitation, Narmada Control Authority, visits the Satyagraha and engages in dialogue with the oustees. Dr. Afroz Ahmed also assured to raise the matter with the Rehabilitation Sub-Group, Delhi, after which a direction was issued by the Sub Group in its meeting on 12th September, 2013 to the Govt. of M.P. to offer Government farm lands in rehabilitation.
12th November, 2013: The administration consents for a temporary electricity connection to the oustees at the Jobat Farmland.
24th December, 2013: Tehsildar, Jobat issues notices to 26 oustees, asking them to voluntarily remove themselves from the occupation / encroachment at the government land by 11 a.m. on the 27thDecember, otherwise the encroachment would be removed with the help of police force and that the oustees would be responsible for any economic loss during the eviction.
26th December, 2013: Oustees reply back to the notice dated 24-12-2013, narrating the sequence of events over the past 21/2 years and the legal grounds for their cultivation. The oustees also express willingness for a detailed dialogue with all the officials, but there was no response from the Tehsildar.
28th December, 2013: Collector, Alirajpur visits the Satyagraha site and threatens the oustees to vacate the land. He also proposed that land would be provided to the oustees at Pangula (Jobat). The same day, two oustees are taken by the local revenue officials, but the said land is already under encroachment since long time and the encroachers are fiercely resistant to give away the lands.
31st December, 2013: Tehsildar, Jobat issues second notice to the oustees, asking them to voluntarily remove themselves from the occupation / encroachment at the government land, otherwise the encroachment would be removed with the help of police force and that the oustees would be responsible for any economic loss during the eviction.
3rd January, 2014: Oustees reply to the second notice of the Tehsildar, Jobat describing that the land shown at Pangula has been encroached and no other land was shown to them, thereafter.
5th January, 2014: Collector deploys a huge contingent of police force and forcibly gets the adivasi oustees, including many elderly, 6 women and 2 children arrested. The tents were uprooted and all other belongings were seized. The oustees were arrested under provisions of Section 151, 107 and 116 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. All of them were taken to Alirajpur directly and were produced before the SDM, Alirajpur. They were later sent to the Alirajpur District Jail. The oustees were not produced before the SDM, Jobat and were also not lodged at the Jobat Jail ! The police prays the SDM to heavily fine the oustees, so that they do not repeat the ‘offence’ of occupation again!
6th January, 2014: Oustees march to the office of the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Akhilesh Jha and question the arbitrary manner of arrests. He was convinced that the contentious issue is lack of rehabilitation and that the police has no role to play, but had to act on the basis of the FIR. The oustees also submit a complaint under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 demanding legal action against all the concerned officers for arresting the adivasis, evicting them from the land, causing destruction of the standing crop at the Satyagraha and submergence of their lands and homes, without lawful rehabilitation. The same day, police file an application before the SDM stating that these 39 oustees are the same persons wanted in the FIR filed in 2011. The SDM grants permission and the oustees are ‘formally’ arrested inside the jail.
7th January, 2014: Hundreds of oustees gherao the office of the Collector, Alirajpur. In his presence, the R&R Officer, agrees to show land to the Jobat oustees. Since no assurance regarding the unconditional release of the oustees was given, the protestors cautioned that the struggle would intensify after 3 days.
8th January, 2014: Arrested oustees are produced before the Judicial Magistrate (Second Class), Jobat and sent back to the District Jail, Alirajpur. Charge sheets / Challan is filed by the police.
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